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Swansea University

swcomms facilitates the voice requirements of the £450 million expansion of Swansea University with an extension of their existing VoIP telephone system.

Swansea University was the first campus-based university in the UK. Founded in 1920 as a researchled university at the forefront of academic and scientific discovery, it is set in parkland overlooking Swansea Bay on the edge of the Gower Peninsula and caters for around 12,500 students offering more than 500 undergraduate and 130 postgraduate courses. In 2013, work started on the new £450 million Bay Campus 5.5km away.

swcomms originally began working with the University when they were looking for an experienced communications company to take over the ongoing support and development of their Alcatel-Lucent telephone system used by 3,800 users across 30 buildings. The system included a contact centre for the Welsh Video Network, but they needed a second contact centre to deal with queries to the IT team from student, lecturers and administration staff.

Alcatel-Lucent OmniPCX Enterprise 
Following a formal tender procedure, swcomms was awarded the ongoing support contract and also the subsequent upgrade of the University’s existing telephone system to the Alcatel-Lucent OmniPCX Enterprise and the installation of contact centre software and hardware to help the IT service helpdesk efficiently deal with the high volume of calls. As the University had previously suffered a number of outages and had identified the telephone system as a potential single point of failure, we redesigned the telephone system architecture and local area network with the deployment of dual processors, with equipment being distributed in three different locations, linked to different providers through different diversely routed incoming ducts.

Since this initial work, we have provided ongoing software updates to ensure the University can make use of the latest features and functions, including migration to SIP using their Janet network. By using their existing internet connectivity to link to the PSTN network and utilising an inclusive call bundle, we have reduced their call charges by 95%. The University has migrated to VoIP with IP extensions replacing legacy analogue and digital extensions as buildings have been rebuilt or refurbished.

In response to another formal tender process for the new-build at the Bay Campus, swcomms advised on expansion of their existing Alcatel-Lucent OmniPCX Enterprise solution which negated the purchase of a second telephone system thanks to the free exchange of legacy analogue and digital extension licences for IP licences therefore maximising the strategic investment in their telephony platform. To provide further resilience, a second session border controller and processor were deployed at the new campus, so they can still make and answer calls independently while acting as a backup system for the existing site. A 10Gbps fibre leased line supplied by Janet connects the two sites but we have provided a resilient secondary link in the form of 1Gbps wireless point to point link as backup which is capable of carrying both voice and data traffic in the event of an outage on the main link.

Mobility solutions
DECT handsets were originally deployed to give maximum mobility to University staff who roam the campus, such as the maintenance and security teams. These DECT handsets provide the same functionality as desk phones and enable staff to efficiently carry out their day-to-day tasks while remaining contactable at all times. This mobility solution has been extended to the Bay Campus with extra IP base stations. Although using different technology at each site, the 300 DECT handset users can seamlessly roam between the two.

We have also integrated Microsoft Lync with the Alcatel-Lucent OmniPCX Enterprise to provide the University with instant messaging (IM), audio conferencing, video calls, presence, online meetings, online presentations, and the ability to connect with Windows Live Messenger contacts and other external users running Lync.

The University still utilises contact centre functionality for the IT team and the Welsh Video Network team that provides an average of 1,000 video conferencing hours every month to health and education public sector customers throughout Wales. We provide contact centre capabilities for 30 agents and utilise skills-based routing options to ensure calls to the IT service desk or the Welsh Video Network are directed to the most suitable expert to streamline the call handling process.

We continue to provide the University with ongoing maintenance support with extended cover between 8am to 6pm, seven days a week with 24/7 remote support and optional onsite engineer out of hours. This agreement includes the provision of an onsite Alcatel-Lucent-accredited field engineering support within four hours of a major fault along with regular fault progress reports and automatic escalation procedures. Alcatel-Lucent’s Solution Premium Service software assurance scheme ensures their solutions are running at peak efficiency and capacity. It provides essential software maintenance and proactive evolution to enable stability and to delay obsolescence.

What began as a service improvement and cost-saving exercise with the maintenance contract award has developed into a full voice solution provision that has more than met Swansea University’s growing needs. The future-proofed nature of the system has been proved with accommodation of the new campus while further cost-savings have been found with the migration to SIP. A strategic long-term relationship has developed between the University and swcomms’ account manager who has been on hand to deal with any queries that have arisen but also to advise on changes that can be made to the existing system, such as the migration to SIP, to ensure the University takes advantage of new product developments and new applications to maximise cost-savings and efficiencies.

Downloadable case study here